Online from: 1996
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Article citation: Wim J.L. Elving, (2009) "Corporate apologia and integrated communication in times of crisis", Corporate Communications: An International Journal, Vol. 14 Iss: 2, pp. -
As I write this editorial, the world is still suffering from the turmoil caused by the financial crisis. All kinds of organizations are in debt and are making necessary cost reductions, leading to workforce reductions in all sectors of the corporate world. According to newspaper reports, an astonishing 85,000 jobs have recently been lost in UK, the USA, The Netherlands, and Japan alone. As we already noticed in the special issue on change communication (Volume 13, issue 3), these workforce reductions will lead to a greater emphasis on communication within organizations – especially as such reductions are usually announced along with the presentation of the financial results and are not implemented for some months. This means that whole organizations are left in uncertainty, until it is decided who is going to stay and who is going to leave. Schweiger and Denisi (1991) stated that change communication is about managing uncertainties during times of change. Communication professionals not only have to deal with employees’ uncertainties in the period between the announcement of workforce reductions and the moment the lay-offs are realized, but also have to check the well-being of the surviving employees. Pfeffer and Sutton (2006) showed that the survivors of these lay-offs have a 100-900 percent increase in medical claims, especially for mental health, substance abuse, and cardiovascular problems.
The change communication issue we published in 2008 was one of our most successful special issues. This did not come as a complete surprise, as the download statistics of CCIJ had revealed considerable interest in change communication. Another popular theme evidenced by the download statistics of the journal is integrated communication, which we also made into a special issue. I approached Lars Christensen and Joep Cornelissen with the request to be its guest editors; they agreed and brought in A. Fuat Firat, making what in my view was a wonderful team for a special issue. Unfortunately, there were only a few submissions for this special issue, and only one was selected for publication. I therefore asked Lars, Joep and Fuat to write an extended guest editorial. They were initially hesitant, as only one paper was to appear in the special issue, but agreed to do so. Lars, Joep and Fuat are widely regarded as the experts on integrated communication, and I think that their editorial will help the readers and users of CCIJ in their thinking on integrated communication. I thank all three for their contribution.
One of the reasons we receive fewer papers for special issues than we hope for might be the fact that CCIJ is not yet ranked with Thomson Reuters. Within some universities and among policy makers, a journal with an ISI or SSCI ranking is considered superior to a non-ranked journal. We are of course applying for a ranking, which we hope to be granted in the near future. There is, however, another measure of a journal’s quality. Papers from CCIJ were downloaded 157,007 times in 2008, representing a 10 percent increase over the figure for 2007. This means that, on average, each of the articles that have been published in the 13 volumes of CCIJ was downloaded 400 times in 2008 alone. Scientific researchers must both inform their peers and colleagues about their thinking and research, and make their research known to the public and especially to professionals working in corporate communications. Because CCIJ is included in Emerald’s Management Xtra package, we know that our papers are read in all parts of the world. CCIJ is increasingly popular among both researchers and practitioners.
Despite the disappointing reaction to the call for papers on integrated communication, we will continue to explore exciting and topical special issues. We are currently running a call for papers on “Corporate apologia: organizational self-defence in a crisis”. Timothy Coombs, Finn Frandsen, Sherry Holladay and Winni Johansen will be the guest editors of this exciting special issue. The timing could not be more germane: it is an appropriate moment for CEOs and CFOs of especially organizations from the financial markets to explain what they were doing and thinking when the financial crisis first hit. In addition, are employees who lost their jobs at the onset of the financial crisis waiting for an apology? Besides apologia for the financial crisis, the special issue will be on whether an apology should be part of the crisis communication strategy of companies in crisis. Details on the call for papers and the deadlines involved are given in this issue.
The current issue contains two papers on integrated communication: a paper written by Simon Torp and the guest editorial by Lars Christensen, Joep Cornelissen, and A. Fuat Firat. Besides this special section, we are publishing four other papers. The one by Christian Fieseler is on the typologies of European communication professionals. The paper by Susan Grantham and colleagues deals with corporate social responsibility (CSR) message themes on pharmaceutical websites for external and internal stakeholders. The paper by Christa Thomson and Anne Ellerup Nielsen concerns the way small and medium sized organizations use (or do not use) CSR communications. The fourth paper is on language workers within organizations, and was written by Hanne Tange.
The next two issues will also be special issues. The first will comprise the papers selected from the annual Corporate Communication International (CCI) conference at Wroxton (UK) in 2008, under the guest editorship of CCI’s Michael Goodman. The second will be on “explicating corporate identity”, with Shaun Powell, John Balmer and myself as guest editors.
I think that 2009 will be an exciting year with great papers appearing in CCIJ. I hope that all our users and readers will find in the upcoming issues of CCIJ all the information they require to continue their thinking, research and work.
Wim J.L. Elving
Pfeffer, J. and Sutton, R.I. (2006), “Hard facts”, Dangerous Half-Truths and Total Nonsense: Profiting from Evidence-Based Management, Harvard Business School Press, Boston, MA
Schweiger, D. and Denisi, A. (1991), “Communication with employees following a merger: a longitudinal experiment”, Academy of Management Journal, Vol. 34 No. 1, pp. 110–35